Who’s taking who for a walk? A responsible dog owners guide
15 March 2016
Photo by: Andrew Mayo
Here at Drovers Way, we love to see our responsible owners enjoying their dogs, taking long walks around the forestry, short walks round the lake and trying to tire them out at the seaside! However, not all owners realise just how near to wolves their trusted friend is and how soon they can turn from pampered pooches to excitable killing machines.
As sheep farmers, we have been made only too aware of the dangers of unruly/disobedient dogs and their ignorant owners; when loose dogs from the neighbouring public woodland have run amok within our breeding flock.
Photo by: Simon McCabe
With the main lambing season now upon us, you must take particular care whenever you are near farmland with livestock on. If you usually walk your dog on or around farmland look out for notices put up by farmers at this time of year. As per ‘The Dogs Act 1953’ it says it is an offence for dogs to roam free without a lead, or otherwise closely controlled, in any field or enclosure where there are sheep.
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As most owners soon find out, most dogs can think of nothing better than a game of chase. Seeing a field of fluffy moving 'toys', that scatter at the nearest whiff of dog are sometimes just too much for young dogs to bear.
If your dog attacks or chases farm animals, the farmer is within their rights to shoot your dog. And you won’t get compensation. If you are convicted of letting your dog attack livestock, you can be fined as much as £1,000.
As dog owners ourselves we would do everything possible to protect both dog and livestock and it is always a last resort to have to destroy somebody’s pet. It always seems crazy to us, that people seem to know so little about their canine friends, especially when you consider just how much some of them cost, with regard to training and manners and many a beautiful puppy is ruined without a thought.
What About Dog Collars?
The Control of Dogs Order 1992 means all dogs must wear a collar with the owner’s name and address displayed somewhere, any time they’re on a public highway or public place. If you don’t, you are guilty of an offence under Animal Health Act 1981.
The Legal Bit
- Dogs can’t be guilty of trespassing… but as its owner, you can!
- Dogs are allowed on public rights of way but owners are responsible for making sure they don’t stray from the route
Having both working and pet dogs on the farm, we see the difference that even the smallest amount of simple obedience training can make between a pleasant companion, and a pain in the neck! In this day and age, where puppy socialising classes/dog creches/professional dog walker services are everywhere and accessible, there should be less not more incidence of attacks on sheep and livestock but sadly that is not the case.
Oh and of course it goes without saying, but always clean up after your dog and either dispose of your dogs muck in the bins provided or take it home with you. Don't throw the used bag in a hedge, even if your bags are biodegradable. 'The Environmental Protection Act 1990' says it’s an offence to throw away "anything that could cause, or contribute to or tend to lead to the defacement of” a public place… and that includes dog muck!
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